9 steps towards a paperless office
Empower your business with smart document management
It’s been over 50 years since the term ‘paperless office’ was coined to describe how computers and technology would transform the workplace.
Completely eradicating paper may not be practical, but smart technology, hardware and software can empower your business to reduce costs and boost productivity.
Here are 9 tips on getting closer to a paperless business.
1. Take stock
The first step is getting an understanding of how your business is using paper now. How much are you using, why, how are you storing it and what are you spending on printing? Establishing a baseline helps you to identify quick wins and evaluate your progress against your business goals.
2. Change printing behaviours
It’s easy for staff to automatically print a document which sits in the printer tray until it moves into the recycling box or bin. Smart technology can provide user management to require an access code for printing to be released – and if the user doesn’t retrieve them within 24 hours, they’re deleted from the print queue. This can reduce monthly printing costs by around 15%.
3. Think outside the square with hardware solutions
Staff often print documents to compare them with something else. Setting up dual monitors can reduce printing and paper build-up by allowing comparison on screen. Research also suggests that dual monitors increase productivity and provide ergonomic benefits.
4. Monitoring usage
Cost accounting solutions to keep track of usage isn’t just for big business. A simple solution like EZ Charger Xpress provides SMEs with resources to track copy, print, scan and fax operations and set usage quotas for users.
5. Smart forms
The days of filling in forms with a pen and paper aren’t over, but they’re certainly numbered. Smart forms for your staff and customers to complete – online or on a tablet while they wait for an appointment – are a smart way to reduce paper, duplication and data entry costs. But the real value isn’t just in the costs you save, it’s the seamless experience you can offer your staff and customers.
6. Understand regulations and compliance
Getting across regulatory or compliance requirements for your business needs a two-pronged approach:
- understanding what records (particularly relating to personal or payment information) are required by law to be retained (or alternatively destroyed) for a certain number of years
- review internal business policies on retaining paper receipts and records. Don’t have a policy? Create a simple one that determines how you’ll manage digital records in place of paper.
Ricoh tip: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) accepts digital (scanned) copies of receipts for your BAS, tax return, audits or other reporting requirements.
Introducing an e-signature program – not just for customers, but for internal documents – means time saving as well as reducing paper trails. Look for an e-signature option as part of a content management solution, like Laserfiche. With tamper-proof security features for digital signature support, Laserfiche meets the Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS) certification used globally as the leading standard for capturing, managing and preserving electronic records.
8. Smart scanning solutions
Choosing the right multifunction device (MFD) and the software to match gives you the power to:
- convert paper documents to editable Word, Excel, PowerPoint or searchable files with one touch,
- send files automatically to central databases or your email address
- scan direct to the cloud for instant backup.
9. Managed document services
Getting specialist help with managed document services (MDS) is all about the right information in the right place in the right form.
MDS starts with analysing your document processes and workflows with the end goal of increasing productivity, reducing costs and making the most of your data. It tracks and improves processes through the entire document lifecycle, including capture, management, output and archiving.
Still dreaming of a paperless office?
Creating a paperless workplace – or reducing the use and storage of paper – can’t happen overnight and isn’t a one off project. It requires an ongoing commitment to finding digital solutions and creating a workplace culture that values productivity over waste, and embraces change over ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
Don’t make the change if it’s counterproductive – if you use paper and pen as part of your own processes, or your customers tell you they prefer it, you can still find a way to make that work and streamline your document management.